Naramata – Dry Pear

Naramata Dry Pear

Naramata Dry Pear

This cider came down from BC, courtesy of my counterpart Andrea and our meetup at Welcome to Night Vale’s Halloween tour stop in Vancouver.

It’s a pale straw yellow, 6% ABV, and very fizzy. From the fizz and the enormous head it poured, I’m guessing it must have been fermented with champagne yeast.

The aroma is light, and a little cool in the way I think of pears as smelling and tasting somewhat cool. It’s distinct from the smell of a dry apple-based cider — Naramata used only pears in this cider, not a mix of pears and apples as some do.

It is, as advertised, quite a dry cider, but the pear flavor still comes through, alongside with some woody elements. The dryness and carbonation combine to make it taste almost spicy, but not in a bad way. I bet it would actually be a good accompaniment to a spicy meal.

In the past I’ve had dry perry that I really didn’t like (Sea Cider), and I think the difference in this case is the that the pear-ness of it isn’t getting dried into nonexistence.

Good luck getting your hands on any Naramata cider in the States, but if you’re in the Lower Mainland or Okanagan areas of BC, you might be able to find it. I might have to make the trip up north to try out some of their other stuff.

Tieton Cider Works – Spice Route

Tieton Cider Works' Spice Route

Check out that classy label design. Looks great, right?

Though I haven’t made anything close to an exhaustive effort trying out seasonal ciders this fall and winter, I did pick up this one from Tieton, partly because it’s been a long time (almost a year!) since I’ve reviewed one of theirs and I felt bad.

To be honest, it really helps that they revamped their packaging and have great all-new bottle art now. Any cider is more appealing when it doesn’t look like the label’s been designed in PowerPoint. (Also, the Spice Route label in particular reminds me of the Allspice tree from Glitch, which is a pleasant, if nostalgic, association.)

Spice Route is clear and golden, with a light aroma that’s part clove and allspice, part dry, funky apples, and clocks in at 6.9% ABV.

It was apparently launched as a seasonal offering but has been so popular Tieton moved it into their regular lineup — upon drinking it, I can understand both halves of that statement. During a time of year when everyone and their dog is releasing some variant on pumpkin spice (with or without the actual pumpkin), Tieton did a decent job of evoking similarities without keeping theirs from blending in too much.

It could be the allspice, which I think doesn’t actually make it into a fair number of pumpkin/holiday spice blends. Whatever it is, Spice Route comes out with character but without smashing an overpowering mess of spices into the drinker’s face. It’s the kind of thing that would go well with holiday meals.

If you’d like to try Spice Route, you can find Tieton in a number of US states, as well as British Columbia, or you can give them a call during normal business hours.

Elemental Cider – NW Atomic Root Beer

Elemental Cider - NW Atomic Root Beer

Elemental Cider’s NW Atomic Root Beer

We’ve returned! Bad Rider has been on a bit of a hiatus through the fall, but getting back into the swing of things was high on my list of plans for 2016. I’ve got some interesting ciders in the fridge, ready and waiting for reviews, though we’ll be cutting back to a once-weekly schedule for beer and cider rather than our previous twice-weekly.

Buying another root beer cider could have gone poorly, and in hindsight, if I knew what was good for me I’d have been more hesitant about picking it up.

Here we are, though, with Elemental Cider’s “NW Atomic Root Beer” cider, which they’re billing as cider “infused with spices,” and in this case, living in eternal hope paid off: I quite like it!

It’s rich in color, a dark amber orange, and the aroma is present and sweet, with classic root beer spices and vanilla.

Overall it gives a much more distinct, robust impression of root beer than Sonoma’s Washboard — understandable, since it’s right there in the name and everything. In fact, there’s very little apple to it; the cider seems to be mainly a carrier for the spice/vanilla root beer flavor, with just a bit of apple flavor and sweetness underneath it.

In my day I’ve had both good and bad root beer liqueurs (Blackmaker and DeKuyper, respectively), and this cider is more the former than the latter. Clocking in at 6.5% ABV, it’s certainly much more drinkable on its own than either.

Elemental doesn’t have a store locator or anything, but if you’re in the Seattle are you can go visit them, or check out Downtown Spirits, which is where I get a lot of my cider.